Atomicrops is a roguelite experience, a genre that has always appealed to hardcore gamers with its permadeath mechanics and the procedurality of its maps. Bird Bath Games’ game, published by Raw Fury, actually mixes the shooter with gameplay that nods to farming simulators and tower defense. The atmosphere of the title is reminiscent of Vlambeer’s nuclear throne, with a touch of Plant vs. Zombies where plants are hostile.
The places are simple and compelling. In a post-apocalyptic world, where rabbits hold plasma guns and the hills literally have eyes, a girl (but it’s possible to use two other characters) inherits a very small piece of land from her big- dad. Thanks to these hectares of pixels, he will support his village, populated with mutant vegetables, and will try to survive over the seasons and years. The farm will grow, but over time threats and – who knows – friendships will increase as well.
On this last point, the trailers flicker strongly, suggesting that, like in Stardew Valley, it will be possible to interact with NPCs to establish stable relationships. In fact, warn immediately, this mechanic is kept at a level of resource management, item delivery, and relationship point increases to improve character and farm, according to preferred NPCs. Nothing too immersive, but in any case a nice touch of color after all, given the good design of the characters and creatures.
Atomicrops doesn’t catapult our character into deadly dungeons. The lands we will ship to are flat areas from different biomes. These are large areas, with camps and nests of stigma that, if defeated, will release items of all kinds (keys, upgrades, economic resources). At the center of everything: the farm. In other words, the map is built in such a way as to bypass the terrain that we will need to empower, cultivate and protect. Every three days, which equates to individual shipments, we will have bonuses based on our results and also change the season. As a result, the characteristics of the places and enemies around us will also change.
There are three stages of the game. The first, the day, lasts about two minutes: it consists of finding resources and taking care of the terrain. We will need to choose wisely to ignore harvest in favor of exploration or vice versa. Harvesting is essential for purchasing weapons, pets that improve stats and speed up cultivation, transportation, and tractors. These are equivalent to special techniques, bombs capable of destroying several enemies at the same time.
The second phase, at night, is made up of invasions and waves of crowds. It is a delicate and frenetic time, in which we will be surrounded on all fronts and investing in turrets can help us survive. The monsters are multiple: they alternate bombs, spherical projectiles, long-range precision shots, melee charges. In the event that the enemies eat the harvest, we will earn much less than expected, which means less weapons and less chance of survival in the days to come, often characterized by the presence of huge and chaotic bosses.
Third and final phase, the Hub, where we can buy wood to build and open new areas of the Wasteland, get power-ups that can speed up the life of peasants, or even unlock gun slots and locations. with different ranges and rates of fire of the standard pistol. Weapons that unfortunately tend to break after a single expedition, making it even more difficult to choose what to invest on the tubers earned with so much effort.
On the agriculture side, two words must be passed separately. The cultivation of a soil is done by alternating several commands and several actions: first hoe and plant, one root ball at a time. Then, fertilize (fertilizer is the most common drop of monsters), and finally water automatically, staying close to the ground. A system that, perhaps, separated from the exploratory phase, would have been a lot more fun. It is therefore a psychological ballast, of tower defense precisely, guilty of making exploration cry. A good idea would have been to manage the cultivation in the Hub phase, relegating only defense to the action phase.
It is clear, considering that we are talking about a roguelite in which time has its weight, that it is certainly not an easy game. The very classic bullet hell element isn’t that complex and punishing – hearts and healing items help. But the difficulty comes from the scarcity of energy and the lethal power that a bad “vintage” can cause. You have to think about the survival dynamics of games like Don’t Starve or the pressing time component of Risk of Rain.
The graphics have excellent impact and quality: crisp pixel art, with colors that measure hypersaturated detail and chromatically desaturated backgrounds. The enemies are really varied. Smooth animations. The soundtrack is excellent and atypical, syncopated like that of the end credits of Spongebob Squarepants, composed of Hawaiian guitars and percussions. It’s important because it’s especially noticeable when bosses appear, and it’s curious to see how some cheerful tunes turn into battle themes full of unexpected pathos. One mistake, after all, can lead to starting all over again.
The biggest criticism of the game is some scenario transitions that are not very smooth, especially in the early post-tutorial moments. The component of the farm simulator, as mentioned above, does not have a perfect synergy with that of the roguelite. Combining multiple genres doesn’t necessarily mean mixing them up, sometimes combining them would be the best idea.
In any case, Atomicrops’ reviews can also be part of its charm, as they increase its difficulty and ensure that victory can only be achieved by knowing the game in depth. This is what we usually look for in a roguelite. The items, which will increase with the updates, are still quantitatively far from rivals like Enter the Gungeon.
In conclusion, Atomicrops finds fertile ground to propose its interpretation of roguelite. It was possible to make it a wider and deeper game, but it remains a low-key title that, update after update, can still grow exponentially, like its mutant plants. So basically it was also for pillars like The Binding of Isaac.